Being a Gen-Xer as I have learned and claimed as a generational grouping being raised as a Lutheran many traditions were not practiced that I have grown into and have steadily reclaimed. I went through Confirmation, but at that time we did little if anything with learning the Small Catechism. Yes, we studied and memorized Scripture, I even was tested on this, but the book we studied was not Lutheran in its theology nor was one to truly teach me fully about the faith, it was a book called Jesus, Then and Now and the hope, as I understand it, was to help us to see the relevance of Jesus in the modern world.
As I have reclaimed my faith heritage as a Lutheran one of the aspects that I have been most excited for is reclaiming Catechesis. I still remember at seminary struggling through this in Confessions and I will honestly say that I only passed by the grace of our Lord. Now that wasn’t because I didn’t or don’t care about it, but it just didn’t want to stick in this thick head of mine, but God is good and He is most gracious. The greatest gift that I find with the Catechism(s) is each time I read through the Small and/or the Large I have new doors of understanding opened to me and it only enriches my study of the Word of God. As an exercise for myself, I make it a vital part of my preaching to, from time to time, preach on the Catechism in a series of messages. This week we look at the lectionary reading in which we cover the Beatitudes of Matthew (5: 1-12) as well as in the Old Testament we hear God’s call in Micah (6:1-8) and Paul’s words in his first letter to the Corinthians (1:18-31), but I will speak to the Lord’s Prayer and explanation as they relate to our faith and the Word which we will cover (yes, I do know that you can find the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew also in the sixth chapter vs. 9-13) how it relates to the great words shared in the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount which is traditionally referred to as the Beatitudes. The Lord’s Prayer is an all encompassing prayer that is reflective of how we should see our relationship with God and how much He desires of us to trust firmly and fully in Him on all things. As we reflect on the Lord’s Prayer it is interesting to see how much it not only points to our relationship with our Lord and how much He provides for us and all of our needs, but also how, in light of this, we are called to relate to others. Now this can be said of all parts of our faith, but in our egocentric world we often forget the importance of our relationship with others, not just to make us feel better, but often in spite of our own feelings. To truly be in relationship with others requires a sacrificial nature of each of us as we truly befriend others. That is the difficulty we face in this world of disposable relationships because truly if we can dispose of a relationship because it is uncomfortable or inconvenient then we may want to ask ourselves, “Is there any real relationship there in the first place?”
Personally, I have been hurt deeply by people who I truly cared for and still am hurt by people I care for. Some of those hurts were there because I found that the relationship was not reciprocated. I also know that I have hurt people because I did not value or hold a relationship that they thought was there. That is always the risk on all sides, but when we are more thoughtful of these things sometimes hurts can be avoided. Jesus practiced and the Bible plays this out. His best friend was Peter who swore he would never deny Jesus, but denies him three times when Jesus is being beaten and mocked (which Jesus told Peter he would) and Jesus was betrayed by a trusted friend and member of his disciples, Judas Iscariot. Jesus knew these things would happen, but he didn’t love them any less or value his relationship with them any less. So much so, that when Judas was set to betray him, Jesus still sat with him at his table and Jesus came to Peter at the end and asked him three times “Do you love me?” and gave Peter a command, “Feed my sheep!”
This crazy journey of faith is one that leads us to constant reflection and often those “old” things that have been there for so long can be found to have great life and depth. It is good to return to them and humbly learn of how God is using you.